You’ve missed the deadline for deposit protection? That’s a fixed penalty of three times the deposit please!

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Imagine the scene.

A local council official turns up at your office and tells you that you have failed to protect a deposit within the deadline set out by the legislation.  You acknowledge that somehow this was overlooked and then look aghast as the official issues you with a fixed penalty notice for three times the value of the deposit.  In addition you are warned that if you don’t pay the penalty notice you will face a prosecution in the Magistrates Court with a potential fine of up to £20,000!


Far-fetched?  Well not from 1st April in Northern Ireland.  Under the new Tenancy Deposit Regulations as from 1 April all new tenancy deposits have to be protected in an approved tenancy deposit scheme (either custodial or insurance backed) within 14 days of receipt and the prescribed information supplied to the tenant(s) within 28 days (the Northern Ireland deadlines are shorter than those in England and Wales). A failure to meet either of them puts the landlord or agent in breach of the regulations and in an interesting change to what happens elsewhere in the UK local district councils have been given the power to take action on breaches by issuing fixed penalty notices.

TDS Northern Ireland (a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dispute Service which runs the Tenancy Deposit Scheme in England and Wales) has been running Roadshows over the last few weeks for landlords and lettings agents in Northern Ireland.  At almost every session these powers to issue fixed penalty notices have been raised, particularly as cash strapped district councils are allowed to keep the money themselves.

Of course it is early days and it remains to be seen how district councils go about using their new powers.  Hopefully a pragmatic approach will be adopted where genuine errors are made by landlords and agents.  But for persistent offenders it is likely that the fixed penalty notice could be a regular feature in the future.

What about Scotland, England and Wales?  At the moment there are no plans to adopt the same practice as far as we know, but given the relatively few cases that end up in the Courts for breaches of the tenancy deposit protection regulations I am sure that civil servants in London and Edinburgh will be watching with interest what happens in Northern Ireland in the coming year.

TDS Northern Ireland will be operating an insurance and custodial scheme in Northern Ireland after 1 April 2013.  In the run up to the launch of the Scheme we are running Roadshows across Northern Ireland. For more information log on to www.tdsnorthernireland.com or email us at info@tdsnorthernireland.com.

Steve Harriott
Chief Executive of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme/TDS Northern Ireland


Posted by Steve Harriott on 8 February 2013

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